After decades of phytosociological work, working with large datasets, making of hundreds of vegetation tables, and philosophing and writing on the phytosociological method, we are the leading research agency on phytosociology in the Netherlands. As a result of our years of work on the inventory and monitoring of vegetation on military sites, we started our own research and consultancy agency in 2022. As a result, we are mainly specialised in the vegetation of the dry sand landscapes and the coastal area: heathlands, heath-rich grasslands, shifting sands and dry, nutrient-poor forests, dune grasslands, salt marshes and moist and wet dune valleys. But the military are not confined to these landscapes, so we also have gained extensive knowledge in other areas, for instance in the forest ecosystems in the coline area in the south of Netherlands, as well as stream valleys and raised bog areas.
We have a thorough knowledge of typical anthropogenic vegetation, such as trample communities and tall forb communities, since we have worked a lot in urban and heavily used landscapes. In addition, we have specialized knowledge of the difficult groups of brambles (Rubus), hawkweed (Hieracium) and fescue (Festuca). The taxonomic knowledge of these species groups also gets its place in the description of the vegetation in which they occur: the bramble thickets of forest edges, hedgerows and forest clearing areas, as well as herbaceous forest edge communities.
Our way of working, in which relevés always form the basis for a local analysis of the vegetation with an eye for difficult species groups, leads to an open view of vegetation that significantly adds to the existing vegetation classifications. As a result, we have been involved in the publication of the latest standard overview of vegetation types in our country, the Revisie vegetatie van Nederland (2017) [Revision of the plant communities of the Netherlands], and the Veldgids Plantengemeenschappen (2019) [Fieldguide plant communities]. Aditionally, for the hawkweeds, we are working on a revision for the species occurring in the Netherlands.
This page is mainly intended as a platform for sharing knowledge. You here find introductions on the topics we wrote about over the years. If you want to inquire what we could do for you, you'd rather take a look at our services page. If you have any questions about any of the topics below (or otherwise), please feel free to contact us.
Fringes and hawkweeds
The narrow seam or fringe between forest and low vegetation outside the forest is inhabited by a particular set of plant species which neither occurs in the forest nor in the grassland or heathland. Often, the fringe is discussed only in very general terms, but research makes clear that every landscape has its own fringe vegetation, and that some landscapes are (almost) completely devoid of real fringe vegetation. Idealistic images abound, but practical knowledge is mostly lacking. Throughout the country, we have done a lot of research on fringes, and our publications on the subject can be accessed here.
In the low-productive fringes of the sand landscape, hawkweeds (Hieracium) form a conspicuous part of the vegetation. Taxonomically, this is a difficult group, and a comprehensive overview of the species in the Netherlands is lacking. We hope to change this through dedicated studies on the genus. On our knowledge base 'Hieracium in the Netherlands' we keep track of the available knowledge concerning Dutch hawkweeds (in Dutch).
Scrubs and brambles
Hedges, scrublands with hawthorn or broom, dense bramble and buckthorn thickets: they are all scrubs. You can find them as a mantle in forest edges, or on field boundaries, in wooded banks, in dunes and on felling areas. They form the temporary or spatial transition between low vegetation (such as grasslands or heaths) and forests, and they are of great importance for fauna: they serve as hiding and nesting places and provide an abundance of food. A particular phenomenon in many thickets is the enormous wealth of brambles, and they are important refugia for numerous allochthonous woody plants. We have extensive knowledge of the species in the scrubs, including the hard-to-identify brambles, and are the expert when it comes to the huge variety the scrublands have to offer.
For our bramble and scrub related papers see here.
Heathland and drifting sand landscapes
Large parts of the dry sand landscape in the Netherlands are (or at least were) occupied by heathland and shifting sands. We have mapped many thousands of hectares of these and made hundreds of vegetation relevés in these landscapes. It gave us a lot of knowledge of the plant communities occurring here, in all their variation. This includes not only the heath and drift sand vegetation itself, but also the pioneer stages on paths and trails, for example, dry (pioneer) grasslands and Mattgras swards, thickets and forests. Especially in the drifting sands, we have done work on the species rich lichen vegetation. Our expertise not only covers the classification and mapping of the vegetation, but also, for instance, the description of the vegetation complex as animal habitats.
You will soon find a link to the overview of our papers on this topic here.
Although grasslands must have been present in the natural landscape in our region, the large area of grasslands which are found nowadays are the result of antropogenic use of the landscape. Hay making, pasturing and, although on marginal scale, burning, prevent the vegetation to change in woodlands. Even our natural looking dune grasslands are the result of human interference. Apart from dry dune grasslands, we have worked a lot on the restoration of herb-rich grasslands on airfields through soil nutrient deplation. In addition, we have gained knowledge of levee grasslands, riverine flood meadows, 'old-fashioned' cattle meadows with Crested dog's-tail (phytosociologically classified as Cynosurion cristati), stream valley meadows belonging to the Calthion, species-rich Mattgrass swards of the Violion, and pioneer grasslands of the Thero-Airion. On barrack areas, we studied grassland development in lawns (which are basically 'urban grasslands') and we also did a lot of research in the pioneer grasslands in drifting sand areas, including the rich lichen vegetation found here. Much of the knowledge has been published in internal reports on the mapping projects, but we have also published articles on our research on grasslands.
Phytosociology and vegetation science
The vegetation (the plant community in which different species grow together) is the synthetic expression of all factors working at a particular site. Climate, soil and water are the natural and most considered factors that determine the species composition of the vegetation. However, human factors, like antropogenic use (influenced by economic considerations), management and historical context, are at least as important as the natural ones. Phytosociology analyses and categorises, whereas in vegetation science the resulting categories are interpreted: by telling the story of the vegetation in connection with site facors, use, and history, the vegetation types (the phytosociological categories) are given meaning. De Ronde & Haveman has a leading position in both categorising phytosociology and in interpretive vegetation science. Our expertise concerns, on the one hand, a continuous reflection on the method, on the other hand an open and unbiased attitude towards the collected data. This enables us to constantly develop new and site-specific knowledge, not only about vegetation types which are usually highly appreciated and valued, but also about very common, more profane and everyday vegetation types. We regularly publish in scientific and professional journals on methodological and content-related topics, including habitat descriptions of individual species, area descriptions, descriptions of specific formations or vegetation types and large (national) overviews. See here for an overview of these publications.
Salt marshes and coastal dunes
Through intensive mapping work on Texel and Vlieland as well as the landscape ecological system analysis (LESA) of the southern tip of Texel, we have expertise in the development of the vegetation and landscape of the dynamic coastal areas in the Wadden Sea region. We have also carried out several mapping and monitoring projects in the calcareous mainland dunes. As a result, we have in-depth knowledge about the vegetation and development of salt marshes, pioneer dunes, dune grasslands of siliceous and calcareous sand, young and acidifying dune valleys, dune scrublands, tall herb vegetation and dune forests. Publications on this topic will soon be available here.
A special branch of phytosociology in which we have specialised is the study of vegetation complexes; this is the field of the so-called sigmasociology, developed from the 1970's onwards. Understanding vegetation complexes can play an important role in understanding the use of the landscape by animal species. We made a description of the habitat of the rare and endangered Western bush cricket (Ephippiger diurnus) at the Veluwe using sigmasociological methods. Other applications of sigmasociology relate to the mapping of fine-grained and complex vegetation of e.g. dunes, landscape planning, and understanding the city as an ecosystem.